If you’re heading out on a trip to Belfast, chances are you’ve already decided the places you’re going to visit and you have already booked your Belfast hotel. But before you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and decide that you are 100 per cent ready for your trip, there are still a few loose ends to tie up. After all, most foreigners do not understand that the rules are different in places like Belfast than they are back home. In some cases, they are so different that you could get into trouble while still in the country. Here are some of the most common things that you should know to keep yourself out of trouble while in Belfast and to ensure that your holiday starts and finishes on a high note.
- ATMs are located in many different places in Belfast so you are not restricted to exchanging your money at a Bureau de Change, though it pays to determine ahead of time where you’ll get the best exchange rate.
- Banks in Belfast close at 4:30pm every week day, none are open on Sundays, and most are closed on Saturdays.
- In some restaurants, your tip, or service charge, will be automatically added to your ticket. If it isn’t, it is standard practice to tip between 10-15 per cent.
- Shops are typically open from 9:30am – 5:30pm Monday-Saturday. This is very different and difficult to understand for many foreigners. The large shopping centres are also open from 1pm – 5pm on Sundays, and some stores have extended hours until 9pm on Thursdays.
- Bars close earlier in Belfast than in other countries, and much earlier than those in the United States, with the majority closing at 11pm on week days and Saturdays, and at 10pm on Sundays.
- There is no smoking allowed in any enclosed public places in Belfast and the rule is strictly enforced. This includes bars, clubs, and restaurants.
- Tourists who are travelling to Belfast from the United States or Canada require a converter in order to use their electronic devices, such as phone chargers computers, etc.
- Public toilets are not available in all stores like they are in some countries. Public toilets are available in the following locations: Lombard Street*, Hope Street*, Winetavern Street, Church Lane, Arthur Lane, Custom House Square*, and Bankmore Square*. Only those which are * are open 24 hours.
- When visiting Belfast it is advisable to avoid needing a vehicle as there may be nowhere to park your car. There are limited public car parks in the city and being forced to park your vehicle many blocks from your hotel can be a difficult burden to bear when you’re simply trying to make memories and have a good time.
Remember, visiting Belfast is different than visiting those cities near to your home but that doesn’t mean it has to be a frustrating experience. Use these tips to get you started on planning your stress-free Belfast vacation today.